As a professional speaker, I often share stories and examples of companies that deliver great service. One very comfortable rooms company that’s easy to talk about is Singapore Airlines. It has developed a tremendous customer service culture.
Profitable every year since the beginning, Singapore Airlines (SIA) frequently wins international awards for top service and in-flight quality. Here’s how they do it:
1. Clarity and Commitment.
SIA’s focus on its customer service culture is clear. The mission statement and core values establish, without question, that quality service is a fundamental objective and aspiration of the airline.
Every major issue, question or decision is considered in light of the commitment to providing a world-class customer service culture.
2. Continuous Training.
Training is not a one-time affair in this customer service culture. SIA understands that daily customer contact can be draining and that customer expectations are always on the rise.
To meet this challenge, four training divisions within the company (Cabin Crew, Flight Operations, Commercial and Management Development) offer a wide range of educational programs to bolster the customer service culture.
Whether in the classroom, through full-scale simulations or on the job, SIA staff members are continually motivated to upgrade, uplift and improve their performance and uphold the customer service culture.
Training to build the customer service culture is not conducted just during robust economic times. Even during the downturns, SIA’s investment in training and building its customer service culture goes on. This gives the airline a twofold advantage.
First, it allows SIA to surge ahead in quality service when other carriers cut back. Second, it demonstrates to all SIA staff that continuous learning and improvement are essential principles for success, not just nice-to-have bonuses.
3. Career Development.
SIA staff are regularly appraised for performance and potential. High-flyers (high performance and potential) are identified early and given every opportunity to learn and grow within the company’s customer service culture.
Senior managers are effectively developed with frequent rotation through top positions in the company. This leads to a management team with great breadth and depth, with a shared understanding of “the big picture,” and with a commitment to do what’s best for the customers and the business, not just for one department or another.
4. Internal Communication.
SIA is a large organization, with more than 28,000 staff (including subsidiaries) located around the world. People from different cultures work together to produce a seamless and consistently positive customer experience. In the pilot pool alone more than 25 countries are represented!
To keep everyone on the same wavelength and bolster the customer service culture, SIA publishes a variety of department newsletters, websites and a monthly company-wide magazine.
Regular dialogue sessions between management and staff keep communication flowing. A program called “Staff Ideas in Action” ensures that new suggestions for improvement are constantly put forward to build the customer service culture. Semi-annual business meetings provide another forum for sharing and evaluating results in sales, marketing, yields and customer satisfaction levels in this customer service culture.
5. Consistent External Communication.
Whether their advertisement is about new destinations, new airplanes, onboard cuisine, or new seats and entertainment services, the legendary “SIA Girl” is always featured.
Why? Because the bottom line for SIA is not the plane, seat, entertainment or destination. The bottom line is delivering high-quality service, and the “SIA Girl” is the brand identity, the personification of that service and the company’s customer service culture.